Robyn Powell to Return to Stetson Law as Tenure-Track Faculty

A headshot of a woman smiling and wearing a charcoal suit jacket with grey pinstripes.
Law Professor Robyn Powell

The Stetson Law community is excited to welcome Professor Robyn Powell back to campus, where she will begin as tenure-track faculty in the fall 2024 semester.

Powell, who teaches professional responsibility, disability law, public health law, and other courses, is a nationally recognized expert in disability law, particularly where it intersects parental rights. She previously served as Stetson Law’s Bruce R. Jacob Visiting Assistant Professor of Law before becoming an associate professor at University of Oklahoma College of Law. Powell said her initial time at Stetson left an enduring, positive impact on her professionally and personally and that she is eager to return to campus and the surrounding Gulfport community.

“I cannot adequately express how genuinely honored and enthusiastic I am at the opportunity to rejoin Stetson Law’s exceptional community of educators and justice-oriented students as a tenure-track professor,” Powell said. “I am beyond thrilled to contribute meaningfully to preparing practice-ready attorneys, producing impactful legal scholarship, and collaborating to empower the next generation of lawyers to drive social change.”

Exploring emerging areas of law

Powell’s work largely focuses on the intersection of disability law, family law, reproductive justice, and public health law, with a particular emphasis on how laws and policies affect disabled people’s decision-making about whether and when to have children. As a disabled woman, she said her scholarship and advocacy in this area are deeply personal.

“I have faced barriers to accessing healthcare and reproductive services,” she said. “I have seen how societal attitudes, stigma, and lack of accessibility can limit choices and agency.”

Her passion on the issue only strengthened when, through her work, she learned of the historical connections between the disability rights and reproductive justice movements, given how both have fought against coercive practices and policies targeting bodily autonomy and self-determination among certain populations. Before entering academia, she gained a crucial perspective while serving as an Attorney Advisor at the National Council on Disability and authored their report “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children.” Powell’s other professional roles advanced disability rights through government, legal, and nonprofit work.

A transformative vision

Powell said her goal is to raise awareness of and secure reproductive justice for disabled people by transforming narratives and systems she says have discounted their humanity and diversity. She plans to continue writing and advocating for greater autonomy in making informed choices about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction.

“My vision is one of equality, autonomy, and access for all,” Powell said. “Empowerment matters, so I am committed to advancing equal rights and inclusive policies that allow each of us to make our own reproductive decisions. Securing reproductive justice and access for the disability community ultimately advances everyone’s rights and opportunities.”

Powell added that she hopes to help Stetson Law students realize their potential for advancing justice and equity, and to produce impactful legal scholarship on salient social justice issues while benefiting from Stetson’s supportive research culture. “The community’s shared commitment to developing ethical advocates and proactive contributors who shape society for the better deeply aligns with my own principles as an educator,” Powell said. “I could not be more excited to dedicate my energies toward advancing Stetson’s mission of equipping students to enact lasting justice. I eagerly look forward to formally re-joining this community I admire so greatly.”

A welcoming community

Among the college’s faculty, staff, and leadership, that admiration is mutual.

“Professor Powell’s unique experience and expertise align perfectly with our commitment to promoting justice for all through sharp scholarship and through fostering tomorrow’s best advocates,” said Stetson Law Dean Benjamin Barros. “We look forward to her contributions to this vibrant community.”

Kathryn Pelham Esq. ‘06, Stetson Law’s associate director of accessibility resources and ADA coordinator, said her presence will be an inspiration to Stetson Law’s disabled student population.

“I’m thrilled that Professor Powell is returning,” Pelham said. “Students who took her courses here at Stetson were empowered to see a person with a disability represented in such a prestigious position.”

Powell holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Brandeis University, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, and a B.A. from Bridgewater State University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Michigan Law Review, California Law Review, UCLA Law Review, and Washington University Law Review, among others.